My Golders Green: Optician ‘fell in love with the place’ on arrival from Kenya

Dr Kusoom Vadgama. Picture: Nigel Sutton.

Dr Kusoom Vadgama. Picture: Nigel Sutton. - Credit: Nigel Sutton

Dr Kusoom Vadgama, 82, has run her own optician’s practice in Finchley Road, Temple Fortune, for 46 years. She is founder of the Indo-British Heritage Trust and has lived in Golders Green for 60 years since moving to the UK from Kenya.

What brought you to Golders Green?

My first year in London as a student in 1953 was lonely and miserable until I met other students from home, Nairobi, who were living in Golders Green. I fell in love with the place as soon as I saw it for the first time, coming out of the tunnel in the Underground at Golders Green station. I found a bedsit then and 60 years on, I am still living in the area.

You have a day off to spend as you wish in the area, what would you get up to?

I have spent many a day off at Kenwood House. It has always been THE “place to see in London” for all my overseas visitors.

What makes Golders Green a special place to live?

Living in Golders Green is like living in a town outside London as well as being part of the great capital. The striking thing is its vastness and openness. There is no feeling of living in an overcrowded place. There are parks and Hampstead Heath within walking distance.

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Is there anything about Golders Green which you would like to see changed or improved?

As in all other major towns, parking is the biggest headache. And there must be many like me who miss the old Hippodrome Theatre.

A film is set to be made about your life. Which actor would you choose to play you?

For anyone to play me in a film is as unthinkable as it is improbable. However, the only person who could is Dame Judi Dench. Yes, she is not an Indian. But her talents and the make-up department’s expertise can perform miracles!

Who is the most inspiring person you have ever met?

Baroness Hale of Richmond, the first and only woman in the newly-created Supreme Court of the United Kingdom. She is the first and the highest ranking legal woman in history. And yet, she is the most charming and down to earth person you can imagine.

Dr Kusoom Vadgama was in conversation with Tim Lamden